So what if the war was about slavery?

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Those that would deny the justice of the South's cause frequently seem to say something along the lines of (1) that the war was a war over slavery and (2) slavery was wrong, therefore in the conflict between North and South the North was justified and the South wasn't. Even if we grant those two premises (although I think the first premise actually rests on the shallowest of after-the-fact false pretenses), so what? For the sake of discussion in this thread, I'd like to grant both those premises. And if we do, how is the North's cause justified even then (and the South's not)?

If two parts of the union disagree over a major social/moral issue, and if we grant that one part of the union is right -- of course, in the midst of the controversy everyone is going to believe that he's right and the other side is wrong, so these premises are of no real value in the real world, but even if we grant the premise for the sake of discussion -- does it necessarily follow that the part of the union on the right moral side is justified in going to war to force its right morality on the other part of the union?

What if the states on the right moral side constitutionally obligated themselves (or their grandfathers did) to protect the immorality at issue in various ways, to make what someone might call a "covenant with death"? Should they abide by that covenant? Should they collectively secede from that covenant? Should they abstain from personal involvement with that covenant (to refuse to personally take any oath to uphold that covenant and refuse any office dependent on such an oath)? Should they take such an oath deceitfully and then violate it? Are there other options?

Or even if there were no constitutional obligations to protect the immoral practice in any way, when are wars justified to end immoral practices? Are wars to end immoral practices any more or less justified if they're waged between states of a union versus against any other random place? Would the US, for example, have been justified in proceeding to conquer Cuba after conquering the South on the same grounds as in the two premises at the top of this post?

So what if the war was about slavery? Would the fact (if it were a fact) have any bearing on the question of which side had justice on its side in the war?
 

trice

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Those that would deny the justice of the South's cause frequently seem to say something along the lines of (1) that the war was a war over slavery and (2) slavery was wrong, therefore in the conflict between North and South the North was justified and the South wasn't. Even if we grant those two premises (although I think the first premise actually rests on the shallowest of after-the-fact false pretenses), so what? For the sake of discussion in this thread, I'd like to grant both those premises. And if we do, how is the North's cause justified even then (and the South's not)?

If two parts of the union disagree over a major social/moral issue, and if we grant that one part of the union is right -- of course, in the midst of the controversy everyone is going to believe that he's right and the other side is wrong, so these premises are of no real value in the real world, but even if we grant the premise for the sake of discussion -- does it necessarily follow that the part of the union on the right moral side is justified in going to war to force its right morality on the other part of the union?

What if the states on the right moral side constitutionally obligated themselves (or their grandfathers did) to protect the immorality at issue in various ways, to make what someone might call a "covenant with death"? Should they abide by that covenant? Should they collectively secede from that covenant? Should they abstain from personal involvement with that covenant (to refuse to personally take any oath to uphold that covenant and refuse any office dependent on such an oath)? Should they take such an oath deceitfully and then violate it? Are there other options?

Or even if there were no constitutional obligations to protect the immoral practice in any way, when are wars justified to end immoral practices? Are wars to end immoral practices any more or less justified if they're waged between states of a union versus against any other random place? Would the US, for example, have been justified in proceeding to conquer Cuba after conquering the South on the same grounds as in the two premises at the top of this post?

So what if the war was about slavery? Would the fact (if it were a fact) have any bearing on the question of which side had justice on its side in the war?

I think you are heading off in the wrong direction here.

"The North" (as in "the rest of the country") did not start the war and did not go to war over slavery. The war started because "the South" seceded over slavery and attacked "the North" (as in "the rest of the country") in order to preserve and expand slavery. "The North" (as in "the rest of the country") went to war in response to that violent aggression by "the South", in order to preserve the Union. Without the continuous threats, use of force, seizure of property, and the final attack on Fort Sumter there would probably have been no war and slavery would probably have continued for decades in the United States.

Before the Civil War, the major impetus for US conquest of additional territory (the "manifest destiny" idea of the 1840s and 1850s) came from "the South". It was "the South" that led the drive to annex Texas as a slave state. It was "the South" that led us into war with Mexico to acquire additional territory -- and wanted slavery in all that new territory. It was "the South" that went wild over filibustering into Mexico and Central America, searching for still more new territory to expand slavery. It was "the South" that supported filibuster attempts to conquer Cuba in 1850 and 1851 (led by Narcisco Lopez, who tried to convince Jefferson Davis to lead the invasion -- Davis declined and recommended Robert E. Lee, who also declined). It was "the South" that led the drive to try to buy Cuba from Spain in the mid-1850s (see the Ostend Manifesto and the Black Warrior Affair).
 
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"The North" (as in "the rest of the country") went to war in response to that violent aggression by "the South", in order to preserve the Union.

If those considerations are essential to your justification of the North's cause, then any questions about slavery are really beside the point, aren't they? In other words, if those considerations are critical to determining the justice of the North-South conflict, then as in the other thread I recently started about George Bassett's hypothetical, you would oppose secession even if the questions of slavery were turned completely upside down. But that's not my question here. If you don't think the war was about slavery and that the North's cause was justified because of that, then my question of "so what if the war was about slavery" isn't directed at you.
 

trice

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If those considerations are essential to your justification of the North's cause, then any questions about slavery are really beside the point, aren't they? In other words, if those considerations are critical to determining the justice of the North-South conflict, then as in the other thread I recently started about George Bassett's hypothetical, you would oppose secession even if the questions of slavery were turned completely upside down. But that's not my question here. If you don't think the war was about slavery and that the North's cause was justified because of that, then my question of "so what if the war was about slavery" isn't directed at you.

No, those are simply reality. "The North" (as in "the rest of the country") did not go to war to end slavery. That goal only came to the fore as a way of making sure the fascination of "the South" with the cause of slavery would not cause a repeat of the misery of the Civil War.

The Civil War came about because of slavery, but it was "the South" that made it happen. The country as a whole was never going to start that war until and unless "the South" attacked them.
 
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all Confederate soldiers knew they were fighting for slavery.

So what if they were? Are you implying that made their cause unjust and the North's cause just? How would you answer my questions at the top of this thread?

And I'll add a few more: if there's a war between two religions (defining religion broadly as the Supreme Court has done with the first amendment to potentially include atheism) and if we can say in the same sense you say that Confederate soldiers "were fighting for slavery" that the soldiers on one side of this hypothetical war (or we could pick actual historical examples) are fighting for religion A, if we agree that religion A is true and religion B is false, does that tell us which side is justified in fighting the other and which side is in the wrong? If not, why does it matter if Confederate soldiers were "fighting for slavery"? What point are you trying to make by saying that?
 

Tin cup

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So what if they were? Are you implying that made their cause unjust and the North's cause just? How would you answer my questions at the top of this thread?

And I'll add a few more: if there's a war between two religions (defining religion broadly as the Supreme Court has done with the first amendment to potentially include atheism) and if we can say in the same sense you say that Confederate soldiers "were fighting for slavery" that the soldiers on one side of this hypothetical war (or we could pick actual historical examples) are fighting for religion A, if we agree that religion A is true and religion B is false, does that tell us which side is justified in fighting the other and which side is in the wrong? If not, why does it matter if Confederate soldiers were "fighting for slavery"? What point are you trying to make by saying that?
You are chasing too many rabbits here, stick to the subject, please!

Kevin Dally
 
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All of my questions are meant to flesh out what it means if a war is about some particular thing. If something is bad and a war is fought over/about/for that particular thing does it follow that the side fighting for that thing is fighting an unjust war? That's very commonly implied, but I think it's foolishness. Prove me wrong. Show me you can answer my questions consistently applying the same principles. I don't think you can without exposing the inconsistencies of your position.

People do unjustifiable things all the time in the name of good causes (or at least under such pretenses.) And people stand up for real and true rights, rights that justice demands we respect, even in order to use those rights in ways the rest of us may denounce as wrong or evil.

As the abolitionist George Bassett said, “Such is the deranged and distracted condition of the political elements of our country at the present time, that, while the South are bravely fighting the great battle of national liberty in the name of slavery, the North are maintaining the principles of oriental despotism in the name of Liberty!”
 

58th Virginia

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So the 3,000+ rounds of artillery the South fired into Fort Sumter in April, 1861 don't count?

Not enough to start a war over. All the South wanted is for the Union to leave a Fort that was located in their Territory. They politely asked them to leave, they patiently waited for them to leave and finally had to fire to show they meant business. Their intentions were to not hurt anyone, just to get them to leave. And, no one was killed from enemy fire.
 

JerseyBart

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Not enough to start a war over. All the South wanted is for the Union to leave a Fort that was located in their Territory. They politely asked them to leave, they patiently waited for them to leave and finally had to fire to show they meant business. Their intentions were to not hurt anyone, just to get them to leave. And, no one was killed from enemy fire.
Apparently southern rebels attacking another, in a 5 month long series of attacking federal installations, was enough to start a war, since it did.
 

58th Virginia

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Apparently southern rebels attacking another, in a 5 month long series of attacking federal installations, was enough to start a war, since it did.

Lincoln should have held out on this last one. But I believe his pride got in the way. Probably a lot of pressure as well. I myself would have loved to see what would have happened next. And as we were talking the other day, possibly nothing. Unless he really wanted a war, like some have stated.
 

thomas aagaard

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Not enough to start a war over. All the South wanted is for the Union to leave a Fort that was located in their Territory. They politely asked them to leave, they patiently waited for them to leave and finally had to fire to show they meant business. Their intentions were to not hurt anyone, just to get them to leave. And, no one was killed from enemy fire.
No it was not. As have been proven again and again on this forum the fort was located outside the state of South Carolina, thanks to a decision made by the South Carolina state house back in the 1830teis. Jeff David tried to return the fort to SC when he was secretary of war. They said no, because they did not want to pay for it. By SC law, the fort was not part of the state and as such, even if we accept the secession as legal, that would have had no effect on the legal status of the fort. If was US territory.

Also, they could have waited a few days and the fort would have run out of food. And they knew it.
And why fire at the fort, when that result in damage you would need to repair?

They fired on the fort knowing it would either get the federal government to back down or it would escalate the situation, forcing Virginia and the remaining slave states to pick a side.
 

Tin cup

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Not enough to start a war over. All the South wanted is for the Union to leave a Fort that was located in their Territory. They politely asked them to leave, they patiently waited for them to leave and finally had to fire to show they meant business. Their intentions were to not hurt anyone, just to get them to leave. And, no one was killed from enemy fire.
You actually believe THIS?

Kevin Dally
 

Joshism

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The entire justification for Southern independence hinges on the principle that because they wanted to leave they should be allowed to leave, and having declared their intention to leave they were justified in doing whatever they wanted to achieve and preserve that independence, without regard for the US government they were leaving.

In other words: they made a selfish, unilateral political decision that included theft and an act of war - all to protect slavery against perceived threats.
 

58th Virginia

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They fired on the fort knowing it would either get the federal government to back down or it would escalate the situation, forcing Virginia and the remaining slave states to pick a side.

Remember though that Lincoln first provoked it by trying to resupply it. The South sent him a clear message on that. What if he played it cool and evacuated? How would history been written then? What would have been next? Just saying now...

Like I was saying did Lincoln really want war?

Now as far as ownership, not the point. Common Sense clearly takes over on that. Only fools would allow an "enemy" to have a supplied fort in their own back yard.
 

trice

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Wow, I sure do see that the other way around. The war "really" started when Lincoln marched his troops into Virginia in the First Battle of Bull Run.
So the 3,000+ rounds of artillery the South fired into Fort Sumter in April, 1861 don't count?
Not enough to start a war over. All the South wanted is for the Union to leave a Fort that was located in their Territory. They politely asked them to leave, they patiently waited for them to leave and finally had to fire to show they meant business. Their intentions were to not hurt anyone, just to get them to leave. And, no one was killed from enemy fire.

Hmm. So, if someone wants to rob you, and they shoot your house full of holes to do it, the problem is really that you should have just given them what they wanted? With all due respect, that is a bizarre way of thinking.
 
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Why all this talk and emphasis on the events surrounding Fort Sumter from those of you justifying the North's cause against the South? Are you admitting that the North's cause against the South really wasn't justified on the basis of slavery and that if the South had merely dealt with Fort Sumter differently and done some other such things (having to do with federal government property and such things) that that would have made a critical difference in which side was in the right? On the other hand, if the North was justified and the SOuth was in the wrong (as regards the conflict with the North) regardless of the details of Fort Sumter, etc., why not focus on the critical issues? Is the slavey-based argument against the South really so weak? (Yes, it is.)
 

58th Virginia

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Hmm. So, if someone wants to rob you, and they shoot your house full of holes to do it, the problem is really that you should have just given them what they wanted? With all due respect, that is a bizarre way of thinking.

Strange interpretation, but of course you've got your right to your opinion.

Let's just let it go at that.
 
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